A Scottsdale anti-mask activist has been banned from the House and Senate buildings after asking a Black lawmaker why he was wearing a “slave muzzle.”
“The abhorrent and reprehensible behavior demonstrated by this individual toward our members, staff, and the public will not be tolerated,” said House Republican spokesman Andrew Wilder.
According to videos the Right Wing Watch Twitter account shared online, Ethan Schmidt was at the Capitol Wednesday for a Patriot Party rally in support of House Bill 2596, a sweeping measure that would mostly end mail-in voting and give the Legislature the power to certify or overturn election results. At one point, Patriot Party leader Daniel McCarthy singled out Schmidt, who runs the Anti Maskers’ Club Telegram account and who is known for publicly confronting people wearing masks, for praise.
Afterwards, Schmidt went into the House, up to the third floor, where he took a video of himself hassling people who were wearing masks.
After the rally, Ethan Schmidt then freely trolls around the House building telling people to support HB2596, harassing a group of old ladies, throwing up the nazi salute as people in masks walk by, and he calls Black representative Reginald Bolding a slave. pic.twitter.com/PUSqyBknGP
— AZ Right Wing Watch (@az_rww) January 26, 2022
“Hey, you guys are throwing away our futures by wearing those masks,” he says to Rep. Chris Mathis, D-Tucson, and a legislative assistant as they walk by. When they ignored him, he made a Nazi salute and said “Heil Fauci!”
Then, Schmidt tried to interrupt House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen, who was talking to a couple of women.
“Hey, why you wearing a slave muzzle man?” Schmidt said.
Bolding ignored him, finished his conversation and turned to head down a hall into his office. As he walked away, Schmidt repeated, “hey, why you wearing a slave muzzle? Why you wearing a slave muzzle, dude?”
Bolding said something to a security guard as he walked away, prompting Schmidt to say “I have free speech” as Bolding left. Bolding said on Twitter later Wednesday that what happened to him “was a first (and) should never happen again to anyone, anywhere.”
“This blatant racism has no place in the people’s House,” he said.
Prior to this, Schmidt was perhaps best known for a video he posted online last year harassing staff at Sunny’s Hair and Wigs, a Mesa store that requires masks and serves cancer patients. He isn’t a stranger to right-wing Arizona political circles either, as progressive Twitter users quickly pointed out, posting photos and videos he has taken with GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar and state Sen. Wendy Rogers.
House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, announced later Wednesday that Schmidt was banned from the building. Wilder said security has been briefed and is familiar with Schmidt, and will not let him in if he tries to come back. The Senate has also banned him from their building, said Senate Republican spokeswoman Kim Quintero.
“Due to his poor conduct, harassment, racist remarks and lack of decorum, he does not have privileges of the Senate building,” she said.
The last time Bowers banned someone from the building was in 2020.
“It is thankfully rare that such action needs to be taken, but when appropriate the Speaker has that option and exercises it,” Wilder said.
Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, condemned Schmidt, or “that yahoo” as he called him, from the House floor Thursday and said he was glad Schmidt is barred from the building.
“All of this is the people’s House,” Cook said. “That type of behavior is unacceptable, and each one of you, no matter what party we’re in, deserves better than the way Mr. Bolding was treated yesterday.”
Rep. Rich Andrade, D-Glendale, said he was disgusted to see Schmidt throwing a Nazi salute in the video. Not much earlier, lawmakers had heard a proclamation and observed a moment of silence in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“What happened to my colleague, my friend, my leader Rep. Bolding was uncalled for,” Andrade said. “I cannot keep quiet and silent about this, because as a veteran and co-chair of the Veterans’ Caucus, it is our responsibility and our duty as veterans to remind everyone the reason that we went to war during World War II was to wipe out that kind of hate, and yet it still exists.”